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The chief prosecutor of the ICTY seeks appeal after allegations against Meron

Following the Press release issued by IBUKA, download full press release here, The national umbrella body for genocide survivors organizations in Rwanda, expressing concern over the accusations made against the ICTY Judge president  and ultimately the validity of judgements rendered by this controversial figure in the international criminal justice, On his turn,  the ICTY chief prosecutor breaks the silence.

In light of this positive development, We hope the ICTR  Prosecutor Jallow will also consider requesting the review of the tribunal’s recent acquittals in the cases involving the architects  of the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.

From The new Times today

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Meron (L) has been accused of acting under political influence by Harhoff. Net Photo.

The Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has expressed concern over recent allegations against a top judge at the court, saying that he may seek review of cases in which Theodor Meron is said to have exerted undue pressure on judges to acquit war criminals.

Meron, who also doubles as the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Appeals Chamber, was put on the spot by Frederik Harhoff, a fellow judge at The Hague-based ICTY.

He is behind many controversial decisions against suspects at the Tanzania-based ICTR, including overturning guilty convictions on appeal and was accused by Harhoff of specifically mounting pressure on judges to set free former commanders in Yugoslavia.

“While acquittals can be a just and appropriate outcome in any judicial process, they must be based on sound and evidentiary analysis and coherent legal reasoning,” reads a statement released by the ICTY Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, adding that his office will file a notice to that effect this week on Friday.

In the missive, Harhoff accuses his colleague of acting under political influence, but does not say from which country.

“Justice is predicated in confidence which in turn is rooted in the trust, independence, impartiality and fairness of a judicial system. The trust of the people of Rwanda, especially the survivors of the Genocide, in the integrity of the Appeals Chamber is a necessity for the Chamber to continue enjoying their confidence,” reads part of the letter whose copy The New Times has obtained.

“The situation that has emerged may have adverse effects on the relationship between the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and the Rwandan people as well as government.”

The mechanism is currently in the process of absorbing the duties of both the ICTR and ICTY after their closure next year.

This comes after various concerns raised by both Genocide survivors and the Government of Rwanda, mainly following the decision in February this year, overturning of the guilty sentences against former ministers in the cabinet that implemented the Genocide.

The duo – Justin Mugenzi who headed the commerce docket and Prosper Mugiraneza of Public Service – had both been sentenced to 30 years by the Trial Chamber.

He also acquitted former businessman Protais Zigiranyirazo, a top member of the Akazu group that over saw the Genocide, and the brother to former First Lady, Agathe Uwiringiyimana.

Other controversial cases that were yet overturned by Judge Meron on appeal, including that of former strongman Col Theoneste Bagosora, whose life sentence was on appeal reduced to 35 years.

Government concerns

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the president of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Justice Minister Johnston Busingye called for investigations on the concerns raised against Meron’s conduct.

In the letter that was sent to the tribunal through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Busingye said the people of Rwanda are worried and extremely concerned with these allegations of bias and political influence of a Judge of the Appeals Chamber.

Meanwhile, Martin Ngoga, the Prosecutor General said that his office intends to advise the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTR, Boubakar Jallow to consider seeking review of the cases that were controversially adjudicated by Meron.

“We shall advise the Prosecutor to seek review of cases that were decided in a controversial way. The record is very clear on these cases,” said Ngoga, refusing to indicate the specific cases that they would like reviewed.

Jallow, a Gambian jurist, is also the chief prosecutor of the mechanism, and will take over prosecuting powers of both the ICTR and ICTY once they close shop.

The ICTR which was established by the UN Security Council in 1994 has completed 75 cases and of these, 12 are acquittals and six of the acquitted are former cabinet ministers.

During its time of existence, the tribunal has been accused of allegedly including Genocide suspects in its ranks, and indeed, some of them ended up being arrested and put on trial by the same court following protests from Kigali.

Posted by Al. G

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